Pathways to STEM for at risk youth.


Solution Need: Civic leaders have recognized that a wealth of STEM-related jobs exist. However, there is a paucity of qualified applicants in the US. Doug Wheelock & Deborah Diaz noted in presentations this weekend that the opportunities abound for appropriately-trained individuals inside & outside the spacecraft.

The Solution:

Over 50% of the population has a smartphone. Essentially minicomputers, these devices can be used to broaden access to workforce training. BigDada.Me gives youth engaging ways to learn on the go & earn as they learn.

Using digital technology as well as asynchronous and collaborative learning, the Foundation has developed a two-pronged approach to workforce training: 1. The BigDada.Me Skills Challenge-a training sequence that uses games, quizzes and webinars to engage users in learning technical skills. Via the training sequences, users are incentivized to compete for weekly, monthly & quarterly prizes at virtual and live events. 2. The BigDada.Me Brigade-an "earn while you learn" initiative. After team workshops, the Brigade will assist with outreach, marketing activities & game development. The Brigade encourages use of the engaged learning app & serves as quality assurance testers. Team members will earn virtual incentives for meeting deliverables.

The Model:

BigDada.Me is a digital application that incorporates engaged learning into workforce training. For example, if Cesar wants to learn Microsoft Word, he can do so during his commute by using the BigDada.Me app. Cesar can watch a webinar about the software and play BigDada.Me Dokuman, which is a Hangman-styled game, featuring word-processing terms. To boost his score, Cesar can "Power Up" by reviewing BigDada.Me tips. An extra benefit of doing so is that his score increases on quizzes, earning him more points in the Skills Challenge. In addition, BigDada.Me encourages Cesar to visit Workforce1 Centers so that he can "Level Up" with hands on guidance from counselors. BigDada.Me features a map of free computer centers & Cesar can visit one to practice his skills on office equipment. "Checking in" to the featured live events earns him more points. If he is one of the top point earners at the end of the quarter, he will receive a laptop from BigDada.Me.

If Lee is interested in data analytics, he can apply to join the Brigade. As a member, he will receive virtual rewards, on the job training before his field work as well as network with industry pros at special events.

The Marketplace:

This engaging challenge-based training sequence makes learning fun. Using the web-learning approach popularized by Khan Academy, BigDada.Me is distinguished by its focus on youth and young adults who are not reached by traditional methods of instruction. In addition, BigDada.Me uses both asynchronous and collaborative learning techniques.

While many organizations work with teams to engage its user base, the Brigade will work to generate interest among its peers, thereby empowering local communities to actively participate in elevating the workforce skills of their neighbors. In addition, the learning modules will craft content so that it's relatable to youth that don't think STEM first.

Project Information

License: PHP License 3.0 (PHP-3.0)

Source Code/Project URL:



  • Ramona Lilla